Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Comedy Death Ray This Week: Nealon!

To call the weekly Comedy Death Ray show a grab bag of entertainment is a little unfair to grab bags. It's so diverse in its flavors that it's not always easy to tell if what you saw was actually funny or something that went horribly wrong.

With that, here's what you missed on this particularly packed week!

  • This week's host was a tag team called The Fucks, a married couple character bit played by Brett Gelman and Jackie Clarke. A sharp, ultimately mean pair of characters makes for a great emcee pair, this was a great choice of host for the night and kicked things off nicely.
  • Conan O'Brien alum Andy Blitz played his usual off-kilter self, leading people in our party to assume he was high. This is indeed possible. But considering how funny he was with his material, which included some anti-jokes and great mic work, makes it seem that this probably went exactly as planned. If you enjoy the work of Neil Hamburger, you should enjoy his set if/when he comes to your town.
  • A trilogy of host segment sketches started with Ultimate Vampire vs. Ultimate Werewolf, which we elected not to jot the names down. And next we have...
  • New York transplant/visitor/something Andrea Rosen was pretty great-- decent set about pants, parents, and her brother was in the audience. Not bad. Worth seeing if you have the means, particularly on a bill you'd be going to anyway.
  • Special secret mystery guest Kevin Nealon had a bit that was as deadpan as you might expect and fairly unorganized, as is increasingly common with the big guest stars at CDR. There were some fumbles, but the guy still has it, whatever "it" is. While a little lumpy in the middle, he ended with some sort of a riff on improv and mad libs as he told a story which basically devolved into audience suggestions. One of our party paid much more to see Nealon previously and the guy puts on a great set, even if it may have been cobbled together earlier in the day. If you're not sure if it's worth going to see the former SNL "Weekend Update" anchor, rest assured it's probably worth it. Especially if it's unrehearsed.
  • Another host sketch was called "Thanksgiving Dinner," which involved Nick Kroll and Jon Daly doing vaudevillian one-liners as characters named "Turkey" and "Mashed Potatoes" until being heckled by and evicted from the stage by the hosts to the chant "Native American Genocide." I was impressed. After this and "Rich Dicks" it seems like someone should hand these guys a sketch show, it seems they have a lot of good ideas.
  • Paul Rust performed, poorly.
  • The final holiday-themed sketch was Paul Scheer as Christopher Columbus, spewing anti-native gags and actually having a brief set as the famed explorer. It's always a treat to see him show up, along with Nealon this was one of the best sets of the evening. Here's hoping for more like this in the future.
  • Finishing up the night was the always funny Andy Kindler who seemed to be going back and forth between having a good and a terrible set. He's clearly workshopping new material, but there's a fine line between "angry comic" and "contempt for the audience," and for this show it wasn't clear what he was going for. (The audience seemed to enjoy it, even if he didn't seem to be having a good time.)

Overall, probably not a good show for first-timers, but you got your $5 worth. Nealon's usually a much more expensive ticket, Kroll and Daly are excellent talents, Blitz was funny, Kindler was on edge, overall, it was a lot of fun for you comedy nerd/hipster types.

Except for Paul Rust.

1 comment:

Scott Aukerman said...

I have to say that, while I appreciate you coming to the show and publishing technically a good review, I find the maliciousness of the criticism to be irresponsible and mean-spirited. This kind of low attack on performers makes it far too easy for one to dismiss your views.

It's one thing for a comedian or social critic to take the "sacred cows" down a notch, but Paul is just a regular guy and doesn't deserve this kind of attack. It makes one question what has clouded your point of view.

I think you'll find that when you start treating your subjects with respect, people will take your writing far more seriously.

-- Scott Aukerman